Try Hot Spots

By Don Fine

A few weeks ago I was browsing through old issues of “American Angler” and came across an article, “Building a Better Fly Box” by Aaron Jasper. A portion of his article suggested the incorporation of ‘hot spot’s into our flies (e.g. nymphs). I read the article with interest; especially because I have found that a number of my newer fly patterns (particularly nymphs and streamers) seem to perform better than the equivalent pattern does without a ‘hot spot.’

In checking this out, I looked at many of the nymphs that I generally carry in my fly box and found a number of my go-to flies have a ‘hot spot’, e.g. pink squirrel, bead head caddis, Czech nymph, and pheasant tail nymph. Then I remembered my experience with adding a ‘hot spot’ to several of my favorite streamers; e.g. egg sucking leech, white fly streamers, chartreuse and black woolly bugger.

You ask, ok what is a ‘hot spot’? It can be as simple as a collar of fluorescent thread, or dubbing immediately behind a bead head, or the bead itself on a nymph, or the incorporation of a contrasting fluorescent marabou in the tail of a streamer. (I would make note here, and I don’t mean to give attribution unwarranted, but I think that Lefty always suggested the addition of the color red to the throat of a streamer as a imitation of the gills of a bait fish).

So what is it that enhances the effectiveness of these patterns, over the old standards? I’m sure that question has inspired a number of debates between the experts. And what better discussion to have over a campfire.

Nevertheless, here are several of my thoughts:

  • The ‘hot spot’ provides an attraction or target (on the fly/prey) for fish species that are more predatory by nature.
  • The ‘hot spot’ enhances the image of a particular pattern in off-colored water.
  • To the fish the ‘hot spot’ may resemble an anatomical feature of the particular insect/bait (fly) imitation (i.e. legs or air bubble that aquatic insects use to rise to the surface during emergence).
  • The ‘hot spot’ is resembles secondary food source, when presented as part of the primary food source (i.e. egg sucking leach).
  • The ‘hot spot’ provides a more life-like appearance to somewhat stoic-looking patterns.

Remember that ‘hot spots’ don’t have to be fluorescent to enhance the effectiveness of a fly pattern. Incorporation of ice dubbing (many of which incorporate Antron fibers or other light-reflective material) seems to be more effective than standard dubbings. Whatever the reason, consider incorporating a hot spot into the tying of your flies, then evaluate your catch rate (or even your strike) rate in that pattern, either with or without the ‘hot spot’.